We at heinnews have something different for you this week. heinnews columnist J.R. Holden switched from player and writer to interviewer and caught up this week with CSKA Moscow assistant coach and former Euroleague cahmpion David Vanterpool. They talked about getting into the coaching field, the number 8, how Milenko Tepic reminds him of himself, his best opposing player in Europe, what he misses about the NBA and music on his ipod.
heinnews: How did you get into coaching so soon after playing for so many successful years overseas?
Vanterpool: Well, I kind of fell into coaching. As a player I never wanted to become a coach. When asked I would constantly respond “No, Thank You.”… During my first season not playing, I went to the NBA All-Star game in New Orleans, and saw/talked to many people I’ve known for years who now play, coach, and work in and around the NBA. One of my friends was putting together an NBA sponsered assistant coaches clinic for former NBA player, and asked if I’d be interested. I decided to give it a try, and see how I liked it, and things went well. Everything after happened really fast, and next thing I know I had a few coaching offers, including one as assistant for CSKA! Which is the job I decided to take.
heinnews: What is the biggest adjustment between playing and coaching for you?
Vanterpool: The biggest adjustment has been SHOWING, and not DOING. So many times in trying to get players to understand certain things, and situations I see, I get my old senses involved, and want to DO what I’m trying to have them accomplish. It’s hard sometimes to resist those urges, but I’ve been successful so far. I have learned to understand that each player’s vantage point, vision, and natural basketball understanding is different, so I have to adjust my teachings to fit each player’s individual strengths. I’m getting better at it, so….
heinnews: What is your favorite memory from your playing days overseas?
Vanterpool: For me it was winning the Euroleague Championship in 2005-2006 (in Prague). Aside from it being the first Euroleague Championship for CSKA in 35 years, it was very special to me! First of all championships are the reason you play, or are supposed to be playing, in the first place. It’s the top of the mountain for any sport. A sense of accomplishing the goal that was set at the beginning of the season. The team we beat to win it, was an amazing team, and maybe actually the best team in the Euroleague that season, but we won the games we needed to win to claim the crown. We showed so much toughness and determination, and did it together. It was very special, and I’ll never forget that feeling.
heinnews: What is your favorite number and why?
Vanterpool: My favorite number is 8. The reason is simple… It’s the only number that is continuous. It goes around itself, an infinite number of times, and on it’s side it is the number “infinity”. The number 8 is unique, but exists within a group of numbers, and most people never know how special the number is….. I know that’s a little deep, but that’s the real reason why I like that number. (Laughing)
heinnews: As a coach, you get to see a lot of very good players play. What player reminds you of you that is currently playing overseas? We all know that you were a unique player – a good mixture of size, court vision with the ability to pass and score. Holla at us. Who has those DV qualities?
Vanterpool: Milenko Tepic from Partizan. He’s still young, and will get better and learn more about the game. But the way he handles his team right now, reminds me a bit of me. First of all he drives strong to the basket, and scores or gets fouled a lot. Obviously he’s a “big” point guard, so there is that similarity, but he’s the type of player that does a little bit of everything. He’s not a great shooter, but can hit a big 3 if you need one. He can handle the ball a lot better than most guards. He has good court vision, and knows how to deliver the right pass at the right time. When his team needs a defensive stop, he’ll get one. If they need a rebound, he’ll get one. If they need a big shot, he’ll make it. He does whatever it takes to win games, and Partizan making the Top 16 this season, and playing very tough so far, I feel, is a product of the way he’s been playing. As he grows, he’s going to only get better. I think he’s a player we should all keep our eyes on, because he’s going to be special.
heinnews: Do you do things differently in your free time as a coach than you did as a player?
Vanterpool: (Laughing) I have to. As a coach there are a lot of things that have to settle down, so… You also spend so much more time working on game, and practice preparation that having time for some other things is tough. As a player you go in for 2 or 2 1/2 hours, get your work in, and you’re pretty much done for the day. Sure you may watch a little tape of the other team on your free time, but as a player you really only have a few hours a day of dedication to prepping. As a coach you prepare for every aspect of the team, and have to make sure they are ready for the next challenge, so the cycle never stops. There’s ALWAYS another day, or game to prepare for, so….
heinnews: Who is the best player you have played against as a player (overseas)?
Vanterpool: There are a few (Bodiroga, Sabonis, Djordjevic), but I’d say Anthony Parker. I played against him many times over the years, starting in 2002 when we both were in Italy. I always felt like he was one of the best players back then. He can do it all, and plays as hard as he can every night out. He plays consistently at a very high level, and deserves to be where he is (in the NBA).
heinnews: What did you miss the most when you left the NBA to play in Europe?
Vanterpool: Being home, and playing in front of family and friends. (smiling).. There’s nothing like playing in the NBA, but imagine playing in the NBA, in the city you grew up in? My family and friends were at EVERY home game, and saw every away game on TV, so…… It’s very difficult for American players to come to foreign countries, and play. They leave their homes, and all the things they’re familiar with, to play a game they love, in places where most times they don’t even speak the language. It’s tough enough to play at a high level, and do well against the competition, not to mention all of the other obstacles for foreign players.
heinnews: What is on your ipod that people would be shocked to know that you listen too?
Vanterpool: John Mayer, and some Maroon 5. (laughing) I have a lot of music on my ipod though. I like to listen to all types of music to have a broader view!
heinnews: What is next for David Vanterpool?
Vanterpool: Hopefully nothing but good things. I really don’t know what’s in store, but I do know that I’ll be continuing to learn, and try to be the best at what I do. I’ve always been the type to reach for the stars, so this stage of my life won’t be any different.